Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Whole Orange Cake

Closeup of Whole Orange Cake Slice
Sunny Side of Winter

Recipe by Sunset Magazine & Orange County Fair Centennial Cookbook”

There’s something compelling about the idea of a whole orange cake. Ever since a reader suggested it a year ago (last orange season), I’ve wanted to make one. But a complex and rich cake like this, with twice the amount of butter than I typically use required a special occasion. When our first mahjong gathering of the Year of the Horse converged with our first and much-needed rainy days of 2014 last weekend, a whole orange cake was born. 

One cake slice and knife on serving platter
One Slice Left after Party
For extra fancy-fullness, I replaced the usual orange juice/powdered sugar glaze with a whole orange glaze from the Orange County Fair Centennial Cookbook,” a compilation of prize winners from the Fair’s first 100 years, published in 1992. Joann Allison topped an orange chiffon cake with this glaze to win an award in 1983. Her cake is significantly more work than this cake.

Two Oranges with Ends Cut off
It's All About the Oranges
This recipe is not too sweet, and the chunky orange glaze adds texture and orange peel zip. If you prefer, go with Sunset’s smoother, simpler glaze: 1½ cups powdered sugar mixed with 2 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. orange juice. Be sure to use large, or even extra large eggs. I might even add a fourth egg next time for added lightness; the cake didn’t quite fill my standard Bundt pan to capacity—the recipe calls for a 10-cup Bundt pan, but 12-cup Bundt pan is standard. Cake flour instead of all-purpose flour might be a worthy substitution as well. I added an extra ¼ teaspoon of salt, as ½ teaspoon is a standard amount that, according to King Arthur Flour, intensifies other cake flavors.

Slice of Cake Garnished with Oranges Served on Individual Plate
Have Your Cake and Oranges Too
Note that the cake recipe calls for an electric mixer and a food processor, a departure from my modus operandi of offering hand-tool preparation alternatives. I’ve adapted the recipes so that oranges for both cake and glaze are chopped at the same time in the food processor. You could choose to chop these very finely by hand if necessary. My thought, because of the amount of butter, is that an electric mixer is needed to get the wet ingredients fluffy. In a pinch, though, you could try it by hand—making sure first that the butter is super-soft. How bad could whole orange cake be, really?

Cake in Background, Cooked Glaze in Saucepan, Butter and Powdered sugar foreground
Cook Glaze, add Butter & Sugar, Frost Cake
Whole Orange Cake
serves about 12

Cooking oil spray
2½ oranges, about 1¼ lbs. total
1 cup soft butter
1¼ cups sugar
3 large eggs
2½ cups flour
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. baking powder
1 cup water
¼ cup sugar
1 tbsp. butter
½ cup sifted powdered sugar
2 oranges, optional garnish.

Spray a standard (10.5 inch) Bundt pan with cooking spray. Set aside.

Cut ends off oranges. Slice about ½ inch thick, then cut into quarters. Remove all seeds. Whirl orange wedges in a food processor until mostly smooth, but not pureed. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Make sure that butter is soft. If you’ve just removed it from the fridge, microwave twice for 10 seconds to soften but not melt. Beat butter with electric mixer until smooth. Add 1½ cups sugar and continue beating until fluffy. Beat in eggs until fluffy and light. Set aside.

Whisk together flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder in a small bowl.  Set aside.

Measure out 1½ cups of the chopped oranges. Add to butter mixture and beat till blended. Add flour mixture to this and beat until smooth.

Spread batter in prepared pan. Use a rubber spatula; it will be thick and sticky!

Bake at 325 degrees about 55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out with only a few crumbs clinging. My cake took about 62 minutes—this can vary depending upon the exact shape of your Bundt pan.

Remove cake from oven and cool in pan on rack for 10 minutes. Then invert cake onto rack and let cool completely. Place on serving platter when cool.

To make the glaze, measure out ½ cup of the remaining chopped oranges and place in small heavy saucepan. Add water and ¼ cup (granulated) sugar.

Bring orange mixture to boil over medium high heat, stirring constantly. Continue cooking and stirring until thick and almost all water has evaporated (a little more than ½ cup mixture remains), about 20 minutes.

Remove from heat and stir in butter until it melts. Stir in powdered sugar. Immediately spread warm glaze over cooled cake.

Cut remaining two oranges (and half orange from recipe) into half-rounds to garnish cake platter, if desired.

Powdered Sugar Being Mixed into Glaze
Finishing the Glaze

Whole Cake on Platter Ringed with Orange slices
Garnish with Oranges for Extra Brightness

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